Longtime chairman and chief executive of CBS, Leslie Moonves, is to step down from his position in the wake of sexual-assault allegations, concluding a whirlwind six weeks that saw him fall from a perch as one of the country’s most respected media titans, Washington Post informed.
CBS announced the news in a statement late Sunday, saying that the company’s chief operating officer Joseph Ianniello will take over as interim CEO and president — both Moonves’ titles.
According to the Post, Moonves seemed bulletproof as of just six weeks ago, regarded as one of the entertainment world’s most sterling executives, but sexual-misconduct allegations by six women in The New Yorker in July led to the board hiring outside lawyers to conduct an investigation into Moonves and activists to call for his removal.
A financial exit package for Moonves will be withheld pending the results of an ongoing investigation into the allegations against him, CBS adds. Moonves was eligible for as much as $180 million if fired without cause, according to an employment contract he signed in May 2017, but recent reports indicated a potential payout in the range of $100 million.
CBS and Moonves will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
As part of the agreement, CBS and Shari Redstone’s controlling shareholder National Amusements will end their lawsuit as Redstone agrees not to merge the broadcaster with Viacom for at least two years. That move gives Moonves a victory in that arena, as he sought to keep CBS operating as a separate concern.
“CBS is an organization of talented and dedicated people who have created one of the most successful media companies in the world. Today’s resolution will benefit all shareholders, allowing us to focus on the business of running CBS — and transforming it for the future,” Redstone said.
The company also will replace about half the board, naming three women Candace Beinecke, Barbara Byrne and Susan Schuman, in addition to well-known media figures such as Richard Parsons and Strauss Zelnick to director positions.
This weekend, The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow, who earned a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the sexual assault and harassment from Harvey Weinstein, published a new report that outlines additional accusations against Moonves, The Verge adds.
Six additional women have come forward, alleging “sexual harassment or assault in incidents that took place between the nineteen-eighties and the early aughts.” He details incidents in which Mooves is alleged to have exposed himself to women, forced them to perform oral sex on him, and “used physical violence and intimidation against them.” Another woman raised a new complaint against 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager. In a statement to The New Yorker, Moonves says that some of the encounters happened, but that they were consensual.